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Ego Metrics: What Measurements Matter?

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Andy Crestodina – Enjoy!

ego_metrics

photo credit: samuiblue

There are lots of ways to measure results. There are just as many ways to compare ourselves and our businesses to others. Modern marketing has given us lots of new yardsticks, both for measuring results and for comparing. We admire, envy, and sometimes brag about big numbers.

The problem is that some of these metrics aren’t meaningful. They don’t necessarily translate into results. They’re also easy to fake. In fact, some of the most visible metrics are the most misleading.

  • Twitter Followers

This is possibly the most visible metric in social media, but many of those followers are inactive or even inhuman robots. Followers can also be bought, so big followings don’t always mean big influence.

  • Facebook Likes

Another metric chased by brands around the world. But Facebook likes can also be purchased. And thanks to Facebook’s ranking algorithm, a lot of likes doesn’t necessarily mean that your content will appear in people’s streams.

  • Klout

Even though it’s actually a derivative metric and isn’t a social network, I’ve heard people ask each other their Klout scores over beers at bars. For some marketers, improving this score is the main reason for interacting with certain people.

Some might have huge stats in each of these categories but still not have a clue how to drive targeted traffic or how to generate leads. In fact, it’s common. In Texas, they call this “Big hat. No cattle.”

So what metrics really matter?

There are marketing metrics that are truly important. Leads matter for lead generation sites. Revenue matters to e-commerce companies. Dollars are important, right?

Then there are the business metrics. Revenue, profit, growth, and headcount are the main ways to measure the size of a company, so of course they are relevant. But aren’t these ego metrics, too?

Sometimes, yes. Whenever they’re deliberately mentioned to make the speaker feel good about themselves or when they’re not relevant to the context, it’s the ego talking.

Just like those marketing stats, these metrics are sometimes misleading or inaccurate. Some profitable companies are deep in debt. Sometimes headcount includes part-timers and interns.

Capital raised is the favorite yardstick in the startup world. Some entrepreneurs are obsessed with venture capital. But ask your local VC, and you’ll find that funding rarely equals success.

Social Proof vs. Ego Metrics

There’s a difference between bragging and showing credibility. It’s often a good idea to use numbers to give evidence that we are legitimate. It’s called social proof, and the key is context.

When we submit to be a speaker, when we pitch the press, when we apply for jobs, those “ego metrics” can help. They build credibility fast. But social proof is posted, not spoken. When we say that we’re credible, it rings hollow. “Hi, I’m a thought leader with 12,000 followers.” It’s better to let the listener find these metrics for themselves.

For businesses, you can show off those marketing metrics with social media widgets. Visitors can see the size of your following at a glance, but they shouldn’t distract from the content. Badges and icons from awards can show off business metrics (such as the Inc 500/5000), but they should be subtle, in the footer.

Be humble. Be smart.

When we meet people, we naturally want to put our best foot forward, so we’re prone to showing off. We’re also easily overawed by an e-famous person or big brand.

Let’s resist the urge to blurt those numbers of which we’re so proud. In the end, it usually backfires and makes us look insecure. Let’s listen more than we talk and check our ego metrics at the door.

bio-andyAndy Crestodina is the Co-Founder of Orbit Media Studios, a web development company in Chicago. He teaches content marketing both as a speaker and on the Orbit blog. He’s also the author of Content Chemistry, The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing. You are welcome to connect with Andy on and Twitter.

How You Handle Controversy Speaks Volumes About Your Brand

Over this past weekend social media start up Buffer got hacked. Apparently hackers were able to gain access to users permission tokens so without the need for a password were able to post spammy weight loss messages all over user’s Facebook pages.

I’m not sure how widespread the problem was, but I was able to track Buffer’s reaction in near real time and I’m pretty sure social media students are going to study this as a text book response to handling an online crisis.

Buffer has over a million users that count on the service to post to Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook throughout each day so, even though many do not pay to use Buffer, the exposure to their accounts and therefor online reputations was high.

Around 1:30 pm CT reports like below started to hit the Buffer account on Twitter.

Own It At Speed

By 1:36 the following post went out on Twitter

  Once a problem was identified the first step of course was to minimize it and while I have no access to the thought process I believe they took the right steps by immediately shutting down access and posting by their tool and communicating with users constantly for the next hour or so. The fact that they monitored customer communication so thoroughly, even on a Saturday, allowed them to react in near real time.

Tell the Entire Story

At 2:07 I received the following email from Buffer CEO Joel Gascoigne – they also inserted a message into the Buffer log in page.

Hi there,

I wanted to get in touch to apologize for the awful experience we’ve caused many of you on your weekend. Buffer was hacked around 1 hour ago, and many of you may have experienced spam posts sent from you via Buffer. I can only understand how angry and disappointed you must be right now.

Not everyone who has signed up for Buffer has been affected, but you may want to check on your accounts. We’re working hard to fix this problem right now and we’re expecting to have everything back to normal shortly.

We’re posting continual updates on the Buffer Facebook page and the Buffer Twitter page to keep you in the loop on everything.

The best steps for you to take right now and important information for you:

  • Remove any postings from your Facebook page or Twitter page that look like spam
  • Keep an eye on Buffer’s Twitter page and Facebook page
  • Your Buffer passwords are not affected
  • No billing or payment information was affected or exposed
  • All Facebook posts sent via Buffer have been temporarily hidden and will reappear once we’ve resolved this situation

I am incredibly sorry this has happened and affected you and your company. We’re working around the clock right now to get this resolved and we’ll continue to post updates on Facebook and Twitter.

If you have any questions at all, please respond to this email. Understandably, a lot of people have emailed us, so we might take a short while to get back to everyone, but we will respond to every single email.

- Joel and the Buffer team

Owning the mishap and apologizing immediately and repeatedly while continuing to keep people informed can be tough, but it absolutely calmed any kind of panic and assured people that this was going to end well.

Keep Communicating Throughout 

A steady stream of tweets that followed added updates as they unfolded.

 

Dig Your Well Before

One thing that I believe won’t be reported enough, but is critical – Buffer provides this kind of experience all of the time so ramping up and doing it in a crisis was second nature and that spirit was shown through the constant stream of supportive tweets.

It’s difficult to be transparent and authentic in a crisis unless that’s simply who you are in the first place.

I’m guessing Buffer received some support from Twitter and Facebook and the relationships they built there allowed them to lean on these two in a time of need.

Fix the Problem Not the Blame

All too often organizations spend the first pass at an issue trying to figure out who to push the blame to. Mostly people don’t really care why something happened until perhaps long after they know it’s fixed and won’t happen again.

Buffer owned the problem and the tone of their communication, including another email from Joel explaining what they are doing to beef up security, lacked any hint of blame.

Buffer may indeed lose users over this as one of the steps they took was to voluntarily unauthorize the app from every Twitter account in an effort to squelch damage. In fact, every user must sign back on to Buffer and reauthorize Twitter if they wish to continue to use the service.

In the end, Buffer demonstrated what they stand for and certainly strengthened their brand in the eyes of most who publicly witnessed how they maneuvered through a crisis.

Reader Note: One final note of warning. Hacking into authorization tokens is the new password stealing. It’s time to visit the authorization you’ve given to services to access your social media and other online accounts. Just browsing through apps I’ve authorized on Twitter I found dozens that I no longer use and some that are no longer even around – those are some potential targets for hackers.

9 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Text Message Marketing

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Justin Mastrangelo – Enjoy!

Young woman using her mobile phone outdoors

photo credit: Anna Bryukhanova

When we talk to businesses and non-profits about text message (SMS) marketing, there are a few misconceptions that commonly come up.

Unless you’re a spammer, it’s permission-based.

Amazingly, many organizations think you need to already have a list of phone numbers, or worse, you need to buy this list before you can start sending out text messages.  Not only is sending unauthorized text message terribly ineffective, it’s illegal and could lead to lawsuits and penalties.  The effective and legal way to do SMS marketing is to grow your own list through campaigns promoted to your targeted audience.

You don’t need to get your own shortcode.

One of the first questions we get from newcomers to SMS marketing is, “How do I get my own shortcode?”  While some large brands may find value in getting their own shortcode, most businesses and non-profits can save the expense and hassle.  Like many SMS marketing providers, we provide our shared shortcodes to clients.  This saves them money and allows them to get up and running quickly.

It doesn’t cost a lot and it’s very cost-effective.

Frequently, marketers are surprised to hear the entry-level costs for SMS marketing.  For whatever reason, even small organizations assume it will be a significant investment for them to start using this technology (it’s not!).  Once they learn how small the investment is, they quickly stop worrying about how difficult it will be for them to prove the value to their bosses.

It’s extremely easy to setup and manage.

When we help a new client setup their first SMS campaign, they’re usually surprised how easy it is.  I think this comes from the email marketing world where setting up a campaign for the first time involves a lot of configuring, template building, graphics uploading, etc.  With only 160 characters to work with, it almost always takes longer to decide the message than it does to set up the software.

Your audience wants to receive text messages from you, if they’re valuable.

Because at this point almost everyone has received at least one of those spam “you’ve won this gift card” messages, organizations assume their messages will be received the same way.  This just isn’t true and they’re always surprised after their first outgoing campaign how well the messages are received by their audience and how few people opt-out.

You can capture email addresses and other information with text messaging.

Initially, organizations are very focused on growing a big list of mobile numbers so they can “blast” out messages to many people and they often overlook the two-way capabilities of SMS.  Many organizations have captured email address, zip code, survey responses, product numbers, and more through text message.  Don’t focus too much on the outbound part of SMS and miss an opportunity to gather valuable data and feedback from your users.

It works best in three situations.

We’ve worked on a lot of SMS campaigns, and while many unique campaigns have generated great results, there are three types of campaigns that always seem to work the best.  Those that are promoted at events, at a physical location, or any campaign run over traditional media (TV, radio, print, or outdoor).  These campaigns always seem to grow the biggest mobile databases, assuming the incentive was attractive to the audience.

SMS is used by some of the biggest brands in the US, but remains relatively “untapped” by small and mid-sized businesses.

Many small to mid-sized businesses we talk to are amazed to hear how many large, well-known brands are using SMS marketing today.  They’re also amazed when they realize not many, if any, of their competitors are using it.  Quickly, the conversation turns to “why haven’t we considered this sooner” and “when can we start?” As with any form of marketing, whenever you can reach the audience where your competition isn’t, the more effective it can be.

It’s not just for a “young” audience anymore.

We don’t hear this one as much as we used to, but every so often we have to pull out the stats (81% of mobile users use SMS) to prove texting is not just something teenagers do any more.  Look around, everyone uses it!

justin-headshot-150x150Justin Mastrangelo is the Founder of the JA.TXT text message marketing software platform. As President of the parent company, JA Interactive, he has worked with businesses, nonprofits, and agencies to cost-effectively reach new audiences through digital marketing and technology. Justin launched the JA.TXT platform to give these same organizations an opportunity to start strategic mobile marketing campaigns using text messaging (SMS).

How Online Content Can Drive Your Business Growth

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Cassie Roberson – Enjoy!

Every day thousands of people go online in search of useful information or communication through social networks. This is where your prospective customers are. So, the next question is how to get their attention and to lead them to your service offering.

Saying “Don’t try to sell but try to help” at first might sound questionable, but actually this is how it works with online marketing. Online content is the first step in communication with a large number of potential customers. So, bring in some online interaction with your target audience.

1. Create content that builds credibility

how-online-content-can-drive-your-business-growth1

Photo Credit Flickr

Don’t limit yourself with just writing a description of products you sell or services you provide. In addition to your website create an online platform where you will give professional advices and share useful information with people (a blog, Facebook page, Twitter account or altogether).

In order to build a long-term relationship with a customer you need to make an impression of a reliable and trustful company. Instead of pushing to buy something from you, give them advice on how to make the right decision.

Don’t be reluctant in providing information. The more you give the more you get back. Remember that if a visitor doesn’t find valuable information on your page, he would likely turn away and find it somewhere else; after all they are just a click away. In case if visitors do find helpful tips on your business page, you will instantly earn their trust as a professional.

2. Go social

You have definitely heard about Social Media Marketing (or SMM) which is technically an online form of word-of-mouth marketing. A great thing about SMM is that business insiders are able to initiate and control company’s presence in social networks. Millions of people somewhere online are waiting for your signal to act. But before throwing a rod you need to lure the fish.

Business promotion in social networks is again all about building credibility and visibility. You have to create content that people will share and spread throughout the community. So, do not pack your Facebook page with commercial offers which are not the best posts to collect “likes”. Ideally your social posts should contain 80% of useful information or interesting facts and only 20% of promotion. Providing helpful and valuable content makes people respect your expertise.

Also do not forget to make it easy to share your posts on blog and website. To get even better results maximize your content through publishing on multiple platforms. Ask your staff, colleagues and partners to help you share a new post through their personal social network accounts.

3. Visualize

“Better to see once than hear a hundred times” works best in case with online content. Instead of posting another 800 word article just share with visitors an impressive picture, short video or animated slideshow. You can also combine text and visual elements – support your article with pictures, charts or even animation.

Studies have shown that combining information visual cues with text content can dramatically improve information retention; which is your ultimate goal in sharing content.

“Overall animation increases performance with better learning results and less effort. However, visual cues rated better than replacing visual text with spoken text. Multimedia materials using both words and pictures have the highest instructional efficiency for retention and transfer.” 1

To make visitors share your content it shouldn’t just be interesting but outstanding. Try to use the best tools you can find for information visualization. There is numerous software to create animation, infographics or slideshows online. One of the easiest and quite powerful visualization is Presenter by Easy WebContent. This free web application lets you combine pictures, text, icons, audio and video just drag-and-dropping the elements to canvas. EWC Presenter might become a great source of inspiration for creating your next blog post.

As soon as you are on the right spot with well-crafted and easy-to-share content, you will see multiple results, including but not limited to:

  • Top positions in search engine listings
  • Thousands of potential clients engaged
  • Better awareness about your business
  • Motivation for potential customers to order your product or service
  • Collecting useful personal information about target audience

All these indirect impacts could lead at the end to expansion of sales and better financial results. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start improving your content management right now.

References:

1 – Research Summary “Animation: How does animation affect cognitive load?” University of South Alabama

 

cassie_roberson_bio_pictureCassie Roberson is a freelance writer mainly specializing in Business, Marketing and Web Design. Before writing for blogs she used to work as a financial manager for a small web design company, later got involved in numerous marketing & promotion projects (including content marketing and SMM) and even graphic design projects. With her Business degree, design and photography passion, she finally decided to become a full-time freelancer and continue sharing valuable content with online readers.

5 SEO Action Steps You Can Take Today

In a recent blog post I wrote about the new realities of SEO. For the most part that post revealed how the shifting form of search into a less content and more context driven world requires site owners and SEO professionals to think differently about how they approach search engine optimization.

Today I want to cover a couple tactics you can quickly employ that should help in each of the areas I addressed in the new realities post.

My goal for this post is to provide you with some action items to check off your list this week – as in right now!

Below are my five favorite SEO action steps you can take today.

Up the +1 and Like

Lots of people use WordPress plugins and Facebook content boxes and such to make sharing their blog posts much easier. I’ve used the Sociable and Digg Digg plug ins on and off for years. However, with the emphasis the search engines are placing on social signals, one way to get even more social juice is to add the native Google +1 button and the native Facebook Like or Share button to the main or secondary header sections of every page on your site.

This way you increase the odds of your homepage and other core pages accumulating more and more social signals over time.

+1 and like button

You can grab the code for +1 button here and Facebook button here.

Embed larger images

Okay, this one’s not technically an SEO play, but it may add to better engagement on social networks, which we’ve already agreed is crucial.

A recent Facebook redesign places a great deal more emphasis on images on pages by displaying them fully across a post – if they meet certain size guidelines. The greatly enlarged images make your post stand out on mobile devices as well as laptops and should be something you include in your content.

The new standards call for images that are 600 to 1200 pixels in width in the open graph image associated with your posts.

facebook larger images

Here’s a painless way to embed larger image in blog posts for social networks without doubling up on work on your site.

  • Install WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast (I’ve written about the SEO benefits of this plugin here but it also handles the open graph elements too)
  • Choose the larger image – 560 x 292 is recommended minimum. – I use PhotoPin for many of my images
  • Add the image to your blog post – the SEO plugin tags it on the default og image
  • Open the WordPress image editor found in visual view and reduce the image size to make it fit your post – I use 240 px left justified images in most posts so I can adjust it here.

That’s it, now when you share your incredible blog post on your Facebook page your stunning image will dominate the page. Which of course may mean you need to give some more thought to your image selection. Look for Google+ to mimic this behavior.

Get after the long tail

The term long tail has been around in the search world for many years now and it’s not going away. The more competitive a search category is the more important it is that you create content meant to compete specifically for those less popular, longer phrases that people use every day.

I could go into lots of detail about how your might get started in this arena, but my best advice is to use software called Long Tail Pro. It’s one of the easiest to use and best priced keyword research tools and can help you identify the best opportunities for keyword phrases you can go to work on with the hope of competing effectively.

With the move by Google towards semantic intent I’ll be producing as much content as possible that narrows in on context as well as content. For my kind of business that’s done by getting as specific as possible about addressing intent. I’ve started a question of the week post where I’ll address one very specific bit of information in response to questions that come up often. When someone poses a question in search the intent is often quite clear.

Should I pay for referrals? Is there any reason to add the meta description attribute? Answering questions related to your industry is a great way to get after the long tail.

Add micro data with rich snippets

For this on I’ll get a little more technical. Micro data is a form of HTML property mark-up used specifically by search engines (plural) to help them identify certain kinds of text like addresses, movie titles and product descriptions.

Micro data is crucial for straight ecommerce sites and it’s use will increase over time for just about every type of business.

Adding name, address and phone (NAP) rich snippets to every page, for example, is a solid bit of advice for any local business.

In my realities blog post I wrote about in depth articles becoming more important in search. Google has released a set of micro data properties that specifically addresses in depth articles so there’s a good chance there will be more on this front to come.

You won’t have to look any further than this MOZ study on the kind of content that draws the most links to see the need for more in depth content.

Structured mark up has already entered in many ways. For example breadcrumb mark up produces a more structured appearance of indexed content. (See the example below produced with breadcrumbs enabled in the SEO plugin from Yoast) – this mark up shows up in the HTML on the page to help with navigation and in the way Google indexes and shows the results.

structured mark up

You can add the in depth article micro data plugin to WordPress to avoid learning the specifics of coding with micro data.

And by all means add the Google Authorship markup if you have not – you can find my advice on Google Authorship here.

Want to get overwhelmed by this topic? Visit schema.org to really dig in.

Build authority relationships

Networking for link relationships has taken on a bit of a popularity feel due to Google’s emphasis on authority when it comes to content.

Links from sites that Google ranked highly have always been important, but now individuals inside of Google+ carry a great deal of weight as well.

It’s important to build relationships in your industry with those authors that Google already thinks highly of. I’m not talking about stalking, I’m talking about discovering the most valuable relationships and finding ways to build value within them.

Reverse Google image look up reveals list of places where this author contributes.

Find those authors in your industry that appear with an author box in common searches with your industry and do a Google reverse image look up to find where they contribute content currently.

  • Find an author whose image shows next to highly indexed content
  • Navigate to their Google+ profile, right click their profile image and copy the image URL
  • Paste the image URL into a Google “search by image” box
  • Scan the results to find a great deal about their contributed content landscape
  • Create a plan to build relationships based on value

This way you’ll turn up some great guest post opportunity possibilities for yourself as well as gain some insight into ways you can connect with authors of authority.

So, that should keep your plate full for a few action packed days!

Weekend Favs October Twelve

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr or one that I took out there on the road.

glacier

Good stuff I found this week:

Blogvio – tool to create beautiful customizable widgets for your website.

Sock 101 Team Line – Want custom socks for your organization – support this Kickstarter

Twine Social – Stream all of your social media in one place and display on your website.

Podcasting: The Referral Engine Multiplier

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Ben Krueger – Enjoy!

bigfishsmallpond

photo credit: HarryLeaks

When all the dust settles, marketing is about exposure and engagement.  Who has heard of your brand, and what opinions have they formed about your offering?

Your mission as a marketer, then, is finding and leveraging these opportunities to spread your message to new audiences and connect with them.

Imagine you have the good fortune to showcase your products and services to a crowd of your target customers, but you have a choice.  You can choose between a crowd of 10 people, or a crowd of 10,000 people…

Assuming you’re ambitious, you want the crowd of 10,000 people right?

But what if the crowds were similar in size, and now there are other marketers competing for their attention.  To one crowd, there will be only yourself and four other marketers.  To the other crowd, you are just one of 800 marketers all clamoring for the same group’s attention and business?

The answer is clear right?  Why then do so many small businesses insist on only blogging and ignore the opportunity presented in podcasting?

There are currently over 4 million active blogs all publishing competing content to the world while there are only 25 thousand podcasts vying for that same attention.  You may notice, this is the same ratio as the 800 vs. the 5 marketers example above.

While the sheer numbers add up to a win for marketers, I must say that podcasting isn’t for everyone and every brand.  It’s a calculated art that only produces results with a solid strategy, valuable content to your audience and a commitment to developing listeners into customers and lifelong brand ambassadors.

Who Has The Most To Gain From Podcasting?

Let’s explore for a moment who stands to gain the most from podcasting. In my experience,  I’ve discovered a few key attributes that position a business to take maximum advantage of the opportunity in podcasting.

An Existing Audience Of Customers, Readers or Followers

Though not entirely necessary, launching a podcast with an existing audience of any size will help your show get maximum exposure.  The first 8 weeks of a podcast’s life are crucial for showcasing your podcast to a new audience of potential listeners, particularly in iTunes’ featured New & Noteworthy section.

For the first 8 weeks only, your show can be featured on the podcast homepage of iTunes.  Getting there requires some initial listeners, downloads and reviews which is where your existing audience comes into play.

A Topic Your Customers Are Passionate About

Let’s say you have a small bakery that specializes in cupcakes.  People aren’t exactly going to flock to a cupcake podcast.  However, perhaps your most profitable customers are event planners.  You could launch the podcast reveals the best methods for getting high paying clients and inside strategies for running a seamless event straight from the mouths of the best event planners in the industry.  Think that might grab their attention?

When your audience of event planners is lining up a cupcake supplier for their next gig, who do you think is top of mind? Consider who your most profitable customers are and how you could provide value to them with a podcast.

A Value Gap in The Marketplace

Examine other podcasts in your industry to determine what’s missing.  If there are already many different shows that listeners love in your market and they seem to have covered all the angles, gaining steam with a podcast won’t be easy.

If you see there are a few shows in your industry, but perhaps they aren’t very well organized or valuable to their audiences.  Maybe they’ve missed a particular niche in the marketplace or you have a new type of information or value for them.  This is your chance to seize the opportunity.  Imagine seeing a year from now your closest competitor with all the attention because they developed a thriving and loyal listener community of your target customers, simply because they took action when you didn’t.

The more of these attributes your market has, the better positioned you are to become the go-to source for your target customers.  What will you do with the opportunity?

Ben KruegerBen Krueger is the Chief Podcast Strategist and founder of Authority Engine, a full service podcast agency with a focus on designing, building and optimizing podcasts that turn prospects into paying customers.  Our free guide: Planning the Perfect Podcast is designed specifically to help you discover if podcasting is right for you, and how to get the results you desire through podcasting.

Three Key Principles to Maximize Your Converged Media Strategy

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Sam Decker- Enjoy!

GraphWe are currently witnessing an exciting evolutionary step in marketing as marketers learn to better leverage user-generated content at their disposal.

As this graph showcases, in the beginning, brands focused on growing their social audience as a means of reaching out to more people with traditional marketing messages on nontraditional platforms. Then, marketers went a step further by using various calls-to-action to encourage brand conversation on the social networks themselves.

We are now at the stage where brands are compelled to surface valuable pieces of user-generated content across other digital touchpoints—such as on landing pages, mobile applications, in venue, or on television. This ability to surface the right content in the right place is known as converged media.

Converged media refers to a company’s paid media buys, owned digital properties (such as their website and social pages), and earned user-generated content working in conjunction to inform and involve the user. The value of converged media lies in the intentional blurring of lines.

What used to come across as a blatant advertisement is not just an aggregation of user testimony, or photos, or a participatory experience. Good converged media strategy means the end user wants to consume and partake, meanwhile the brand is getting the benefit of unobtrusive advertising. Below are three principles to implementing a successful converged media strategy.

Principle 1: Incentivize participation by tapping into user curiosity

In order to increase affinity and buzz around their brand, Hollister rallied consumers to unlock a promotional product via social interactions. The brand built a “flock-to-unlock” experience in which fans Tweeted the #InHollister hashtag to release the brand’s special deal for the day.

To effectively make the most of their media resources, Hollister leveraged Twitter promoted hashtags to increase campaign exposure. The hashtag drove consumers to the Flock-To-Unlock experience, where they were encouraged to generate further earned media.

Hollister incentivized social participation by promising to activate the promotion once a certain volume had been reached. This earned content subsequently directed people back to Hollister’s owned destination thus completing the paid, owned, earned, loop. The strategy was hugely successful, earning Hollister over 40,000 #InHollister Tweets and driving a 600% increase in mentions. This exposure translated into conversion as Hollister’s site sales increased by 45% from the average day.

Link to Case Study: http://www.massrelevance.com/case-study/hollister-drives-500-roi-social-sharing-campaign

Principle 2: Leverage paid advertising to align your brand with an experience

American IdolOne way that brands are entering the converged media space is through social sponsorships. Brands have seen value in spending ad dollars on sponsorships as a way of tying themselves to informational, unobtrusive advertising that doesn’t disrupt the user experience. Brands can weave themselves into the greater user experience through paid sponsorships, prompt earned conversations by inspiring participations, and direct traffic to owned assets by linking from paid and earned content.

AT&T did just this through their sponsorship of American Idol. AT&T’s #IdolAgree /#IdolDisagree poll added valuable insight to an awesome and widely watched event. ATT leveraged Idol’s active built-in audience to engage with their brand in a way that actually enhanced the viewing experience of the event. Sponsorships allow brands great exposure that is contextually relevant to users.

Randy JacksonOf the total volume of Tweets around American Idol during the featured week, 27% contained one of the two voting hashtags (#IdolAgree/#IdolDisagree) that were used within the Mass Relevance visualization, sponsored by AT&T. A spike in social activity followed very (paid) on-air call-to-action.

Principle 3: Enable and inspire amplification

Free Cone Day is marked on the calendars of ice cream lovers around the world. To generate global awareness and buzz, Ben and Jerry’s utilized the hashtag #freeconeday to organize and inspire amplification around the special event. Scaling across multiple touchpoints and languages, Ben and Jerry’s was able to successfully generate earned media by asking fans about their favorite flavors.

Free Cone Day

Using Twitter Promoted Products, Ben & Jerry’s was able to further own the social conversation surrounding the campaign by targeting the right audience at the right time with a brand-specific hashtag. This resulted in a massive social reach of over 723 million people, generating brand exposure globally to about 10% of the world’s population. Additionally, #FreeConeDay trended in 48 cities on Twitter.

Link to case study: http://dje2ip9jb2y9k.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/case-studies/pdf/Case_Study_benandjerrys_final%20%282%29.pdf

Converged media is now the ultimate marketing imperative, the new norm. You have an audience and they are talking about your brand. It’s time to make the valuable parts of this conversation visible across multiple channels to allow for further user interaction and amplification.

Like Hollister, AT&T, and Ben & Jerry’s, brands must merge their paid, owned, and earned media efforts to best connect with their consumers, drive authentic content to their branded destinations, and amplify word-of-mouth beyond social channels.

Link to white paper – http://learn.massrelevance.com/how-to-converge-media

SamDeckerSam Decker is the Co-Founder and CEO of Mass Relevance, a social experience platform that discovers, filters, and displays real-time content anywhere. Mass Relevance has worked with over 200 major brands, sports teams, publishers, and broadcasters, such as Victoria’s Secret, Patagonia, Nike, MTV, The Oscars, and NBC. Decker has authored two books on word of mouth marketing, and he frequently speaks on converged media, consumer engagement, and social technology.  Mass Relevance would love to hear from you! Contact Sam or Mass Relevance at www.massrelevance.com.